HM Revenue and Customs’ recognised overseas pensions (Rops) list, published today (1 September), has one extra fund in the Australian space, a self managed super fund which industry specialists say may cause a reopening of the market down under.
This follows the HMRC list being slashed of all Australian funds earlier this year.
In June, HMRC confirmed to the Australian Treasury that Australian superannuation funds no longer complied with its rules under the new pension age test for them to remain recognised overseas pensions.
Then in July, HMRC refused to give Australian superannuation funds an exemption under the UK overseas pension rules - despite pleading from an Australian trade body - and started issuing letters to Australian schemes warning they are about to be taxed.
Under the pension age test brought in by the pension freedoms, schemes are required to assert savers are not able to access funds before the age of 55, except in cases of extreme ill health in line with UK law.
Failure to do so means transfers in are treated as unauthorised payments, with schemes hit by a retrospective 55 per cent tax charge.
However, savers can access funds earlier under Australian law in a wider range of circumstances, such as financial hardship.
Paul Davies, director of Surrey-based Qrops advisers Global Qrops, told FTAdviser that is a significant development, because it is a self-managed super fund.
“What it means is that with the right financial and legal advice anyone can set up their own scheme in Australia, so it opens up the avenues for transfers once more.
“Australian schemes were removed because they didn’t meet the pension age test. What is significant here is that it is an individual. With the right help and guidance an individual has set up a scheme on an individual basis and the individual is over 55 so logic dictates they cannot fail the pension age test.”
Mr Davies added that this had opened up the door for several people to apply under a similar method, with dozens more now likely to have adopted a similar method by the end of the year.
However, Montfort International founder and managing director Geraint Davies, said he did not see this as a “big market”.
“The problem that you’ve got is that if you are not 55 then you are not going to find many people who would want or need to have a Qrops status. Why do you need your Qrops status if the money is already there in Australia?
“If you move to an Australian scheme you can’t necessarily move out - you need to weigh up what the right thing is to do. You’ve got a very restricted market place now, so if you set up when you are 55 you can’t access money until you are 56 anyway because of the Australian Preservation Age.
“It is a limited opportunity for a limited number of people.”
Montfort International’s Mr Davies said the market has a number of restrictions at present, such as Visa age, pension age test, the cost of setting one of these up, the size of the fund and the ongoing expense of running a self-managed super fund.